Benny Torres is not the only one who had a problem with EGM’s recent coverage of the brewing portable wars in their February 2005 issue. Nintendo Now recently weighed in on the issue and, not too surprisingly, also found the coverage to be less than favorable for the DS.
Many of these same points were already addressed on this blog EGM’s Editor-in-chief Dan “Shoe” Hsu. The article does bring up some fresh points:
Games like Pokemon Dash, Super Princess Peach, Frogger, and Atari Classics made it on the list while better looking, true sure-fire hits that highlight the DS’s capabilities such as Rayman DS, Metroid Prime: Hunters, Dynasty Warriors, Another Code, and Super Mario Bros. DS were strangely absent.
But, to be fair, Nintendo itself didn’t mention any of those “sure-fire hits” titles in a recent press release:
Publishers have more than 120 games planned for Nintendo DS. Key titles due in 2005 include Need for Speed Underground™ 2 from Electronic Arts, WarioWare™: Touched!, Pokémon® Dash and Yoshi Touch & Go™ from Nintendo and Retro Atari Classics™ from Atari.
Part of the problem here is that the EGM feature isn’t an unbiased news article — it’s more of an extended preview section for portable games. While there are a lot of facts presented, a lot of opinions also seep in, and those opinions do favor the PSP. Part of this is likely because of previously discussed preview bias, part of this is becasue the EGM staff probably thinks the PSP is better.
There’s no problem with this, except that some readers obviously don’t understand that this is an opinion feature. The way the article is cast in the magazine, this is understandable. It’s not labeled as a review or preview and it’s not in the “press start” news section (which also has its share of opinion… a topic for another time), instead it is placed in the cover feature slot where straight news and opinion-based pieces are known to show up. Readers expecting a totally unbiased, purely factual look at the competing systems will not get what they expect.
Is this fair to EGM. Maybe — they make minimal effort to make it explicit to readers that the feature is editorial preview. Maybe not — anyone who reads EGM should know that the magazine is pretty much one big editorial anyway. The seperation of editorial and hard news content has been discussed on this blog before, and I’m not going to rehash my points, but I will say that a clearer demarcation here could have saved EGM a lot of headaches.
I’ll end this post the same way NNow ended theirs, and I’ll note that I usually don’t look for unbiased commentary from sites with company or system names in their title. (not to make a blanket statement about such sites, but their titles do start them off with one objectivity strike against them):
For now, gamers looking for the truth about Nintendo products can count on dependable and objective online media outlets such as Nintendo Now, Planet GameCube, and N-Sider. Obviously you won’t find one in the magazine world… yet.